Early Years Public Health update: 2020 Christmas break
17 December 2020
Mobile testing units
You may be aware that mobile testing units have been located at secondary schools and colleges in Waltham Forest this week to do testing of those without symptoms of coronavirus. This testing is vital because a very large number of people do not show any symptoms when they contract the virus. This means they can unwittingly spread the virus to their friends and families – especially if they are spending time with them at Christmas.
We expect the two mobile testing centres will also be available from Saturday 19 December until Tuesday 22 December at:
- Richmond Road Car Park, 3 Richmond Rd, Chingford, London E4 7BN
- Church Lane Car Park, Leytonstone, London E11 4QN
Centres will be open from 9am until 3pm. You do not need to book. Anyone working in childcare or early years can also come to these sites to be tested, even without symptoms. There is more information here.
Update on isolation periods
Close contacts of someone with Covid-19 are now required to isolate for 10 days (not 14 as previously). Please note the isolation period is for a full 10 days starting the day after you were last in contact with the person with Covid-19. This means that, for example, your last contact with them was at any time on the 15th of the month your isolation period ends at 23:59 hrs on the 25th.
For individuals with Covid-19, the isolation period remains 10 days, but this also starts the day after Covid-19 symptoms begin or a positive test result is received (if have no symptoms).
On Monday 14 December 2020, the change to the isolation period for contacts will apply to all those who are currently self-isolating including those who commenced self-isolation before Monday.
The updated guidance can be found here. The change in guidance follows a review of the evidence by the Chief Medical Officer who states he is now confident we can reduce the number of days that individuals self isolate and that by continuing to isolate where appropriate, we can save lives.
Contact tracing over Christmas
All year round providers/Full Daycare settings
We know that many nurseries and childminders will continue to operate over the holiday period, providing invaluable support to parents who still require childcare during this time. Private, voluntary and independent providers, and maintained nursery schools that have remained open over Christmas should continue to follow the local guidance for reporting cases of coronavirus over Christmas. We recommend that you advise parents to ensure that they still do contact the childcare setting (including during periods of closure) if their child tests positive for coronavirus over Christmas and they were in the setting in the 48 hours prior to symptoms starting or in the 48 hours prior to the test if they had no symptoms and that they know the best way to get in touch with you. Where a child or staff member tests positive for the coronavirus during the Christmas holidays, having developed symptoms more than 48 hours since being in setting, the setting does not need to be contacted and the local public health team does not need to be notified.
Preschool/term-time settings that only open during term-time should follow the arrangements for schools – described below:
The Department for Education announced that schools should remain contactable for contact tracing for six days following the end of the school term. It was previously advised that schools would use the Friday 18 December as an Inset day, therefore making, Thursday 17 December 2020 the last day of term for most. This would mean that schools should remain contactable for contact tracing up until the end of Wednesday 23 December 2020.
We are advising that all preschools/ term-time settings, irrespective of when the majority of children are now last on the childcare premises, should remain contactable for contact tracing until the end of Wednesday 23 December 2020.
We recommend that you inform parents to ensure that they continue to notify the preschool/term-time setting of confirmed cases of coronavirus until Wednesday 23 December 2020, if the child has been in childcare premises in the 48 hours prior to start of symptoms or 48 hours prior to the test, if they have had no symptoms.
Where a child or staff member tests positive for the coronavirus during the Christmas holidays, having developed symptoms more than 48 hours since being in the childcare setting, the childcare setting should not be contacted and the local public health team does not need to be notified.
Please ensure that there is a clear line of communication and that staff and parents know who / how to notify the childcare setting of a positive test result once the childcare setting has closed for Christmas.
Where children or staff are required to self-isolate due to contact with a positive case after the first six days following the end of term, childcare setting do not need to be informed about their absence until the first day of the new term and you do not need to contact Department for Education for advice or to notify email@example.com
Responding to a confirmed case
Bearing in mind the advice above on timelines, where cases require action both provider types should follow the usual response and notification processes – contact Department for Education helpline for advice with undertaking contact tracing and informing parents, notify the firstname.lastname@example.org email address (this will be monitored throughout the Christmas period) and inform Ofsted (Ofsted registered childcare settings).
Moving forward, please can we ask all childcare settings to use the Early Years notification form when notifying Waltham Forest Public Health (email@example.com) of a confirmed case of coronavirus. This can be added as an attachment or copied into the body of the email.
Travel over the Christmas period
Staff and children who travel to countries not on the travel corridor list over the Christmas period will be required to self-isolate for a period of 10 days on their return. We advise that staff are reminded of the requirement that they advise you of their travel and the need to self-isolate. Settings should seek advice from their HR provider on how such absence is managed. From 15 December 2020, passengers arriving into England from countries not featured on the government’s travel corridor list will have the option to take a test after 5 days of self-isolation, with a negative result releasing them from the need to isolate.
For more information visit GOV.UK.
Tier 3 restrictions and Christmas
Covid-19 cases are high in Waltham Forest, and we need all those in the childcare and school community to keep safe this Christmas.
In response to rising numbers of cases, as of midnight on Wednesday 16th December, London and parts of the South East will enter into tier 3 restrictions. To read the full restrictions for Tier 3, please visit the government website
As you will be aware, from 23rd to 27th December, households may choose to form a Christmas bubble, consisting of three households. In all other settings during 23rd – 27th December, tier 3 restrictions will apply in Waltham Forest.
It is important that those who create a Christmas bubble (up to three households) from the 23-27 make sure they understand the risks attached with mixing indoors. If you need to meet as a Christmas bubble you must take these measures to prevent the spread of the virus:
- wash your hands frequently
- clean touch points regularly, such as door handles and surfaces
- make sure you let as much fresh air in as you can during a visit and after visitors have left, without getting cold, by opening windows and door
- if you can instead, meet up outdoors with friends and family around Christmas
- most importantly, keep socially distanced from anybody you do not live with from now until Christmas. If possible, avoid meeting anyone at all socially until you meet your Christmas bubble
Remember, just because the government is allowing households to meet up at Christmas, does not mean it is safe to do so. Please choose carefully what decision is right for your family.
As ever, the Waltham Forest Public Health team is here to support you and if you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We are incredibly grateful for the ongoing efforts of all staff working across childcare and early years. We hope you can all have a very well deserved and restful Christmas break.